For some time, we’ve known that Apple lusts for the China market. Now comes word Tim Cook, Chief Operating Officer (and CEO stand-in) was seen at China Mobile’s home office. Signing China Mobile means $70 billion for the tech giant, potentially doubling the tech giant’s cash-on-hand.
With a population of more than 1 billion people, China represents “a whole new world” for the iPhone, according to analyst Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities. During the first half of 2011, Apple earned $5 billion from Greater China, or 10 percent of the company’s overall sales. That’s a sharp jump from a year ago, when Apple earned just $3 billion for all of 2010.
The iPhone sells to high-end subscribers, estimated by White at between 100 million and 125 million customers.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” White told investors Thursday. As for Cook’s visit to China Mobile headquarters? You don’t fly around the world to drop in and just say ‘hi’. “We are inclined to believe that an announcement is imminent over the next several months,” the analyst predicts.
There have been numerous reports of Apple prepping a lower-cost iPhone model. Earlier this year, two reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal suggested Apple was developing a handset half the size of the iPhone 4 and carrying a $200 no-contract price. Those reports indicated the device was aimed at competing with cheaper Android phones.